Speedcar: Series Dubai II race one report

Alesi wins close finish in opening Dubai race Jean Alesi held off a charging Christopher Zoechling to win a close finish in the opening Speedcar Series race at Dubai Autodrome on Friday afternoon. Alesi grabbed the lead after a spectacular ...

Alesi wins close finish in opening Dubai race

Jean Alesi held off a charging Christopher Zoechling to win a close finish in the opening Speedcar Series race at Dubai Autodrome on Friday afternoon.

Alesi grabbed the lead after a spectacular rolling start, over which surprise poleman Zoechling, a 21-year-old Dubai-based Austrian, complained that Jean had jumped ahead of him before the white line that marks the start of the race. Alesi disagreed, saying Zoechling was braking too much.

"I was on the power, he braked, so I braked, but I was straight back on the throttle," said Alesi. "It meant I had a bit more speed than him on the run to the first corner."

Alesi still had to brake late to dive around the outside of Zoechling at Turn 1, and they were followed by Vitantonio Liuzzi, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Johnny Herbert and Gianni Morbidelli.

Frentzen passed Liuzzi for third at Turn 12, but had to drive hard to fend him off into the following 'bowl bend'. Liuzzi regained the position a lap later at Turn 10, only to run wide and let Frentzen and an opportunistic Johnny Herbert past. Liuzzi would later suffer a puncture, which put him out of the points.

At the front, Alesi pulled out a 3sec lead before Zoechling put in a mid-race attack. By lap 17, Zoechling was just 0.6secs behind, and pushing Alesi hard for the victory.

Despite the 30-degree air temperature, which was more like 55-degrees in the cars, the pace at the front was relentless. Despite Zoechling's charging drive, Alesi held him off to the finish, with a winning margin of 0.703secs.

"My car developed a little oversteer as the race progressed, but the Michelin tyres were very consistent," said Alesi. "It was very hot in the cockpit though. When I tried to get more cooling, there was nothing more to come."

Zoechling was happy with second, and said: "I ran out of time to catch Jean, unfortunately. I'm pleased with the result, but I've never been in such a hot racing car."

Frentzen finished a distant third, but suffered a gearbox problem in the closing stages. He lost second gear, but managed to coax his car home just ahead of series returnee David Terrien. "I didn't have as good a pace as I thought I would," said Frentzen. "Although I had the gearbox problem, I could not attack as much as I had planned."

Terrien took fourth place at the expense of Johnny Herbert, who he passed with a smart manoeuvre at Turn 12 - just in front of the office building in which Terrien works (he runs the kart track at Dubai Autodrome). Herbert finished fifth, ahead of Hasher Al Maktoum.

Morbidelli could only manage seventh after he was hit into a spin on the opening lap. Damien Pasini finished eighth, and will start Saturday's second race from reverse grid pole position.

Qatar star Marco Melandri didn't shine quite so brightly at Dubai. He ran eighth early on, but spun down to 13th position at Turn 14. He recovered to finish 10th.

Morbidelli still leads the championship by five points, with three races remaining, ahead of Herbert, Frentzen, Liuzzi and Alesi. <pre> Race 1 Classification

Pos  Driver         Team                Laps   Time / Gap
 1   J. Alesi       HPR                 24     41:15.994
 2   C. Zoechling   Continental Circus  24         0.703
 3   H. Frentzen    Team Lavaggi        24        11.222
 4   D. Terrien     Durango             24        11.778
 5   J. Herbert     JMB                 24        16.478
 6   H. Al Maktoum  UP Team             24        17.829
 7   G. Morbidelli  Palm Racing         24        34.677
 8   D. Pasini      JMB                 24        38.057
 9   T. Biagi       Palm Beach          24        39.882
10   M. Melandri    Team Lavaggi        24        50.412
11   M. Lee         HPR                 24        53.845
12   V. Liuzzi      UP Team             23        1 Lap
13   H. Al Fardan   Durango             24        2 Laps
14   E. Charles     Continental Circus  19        5 Laps

Fastest Lap C. Zoechling Continental Circus 1:42.438 on lap 8

-credit: speedcar

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About this article
Series Road racing
Drivers Johnny Herbert , Jean Alesi , David Terrien , Vitantonio Liuzzi , Marco Melandri , Gianni Morbidelli , Damien Pasini , Christopher Zöchling , Hasher Al Maktoum